I want e-books to succeed, and I think that a successful e-book market needs to include competitors to Amazon. So I was glad that BooksOnBoard was partnering with Stanza to bring "for purchase content" to the iPhone.
When I had a free moment, I took the opportunity to visit BooksOnBoard to experience the purchase process. The first time was a bit, well, off-putting. It took fourteen steps and over 10 minutes on the Edge connection. I e-mailed BooksOnBoard with my frustrations, and the company was very prompt and responsive. It asked me to try again; and on my second time, about three steps were eliminated. If you choose the reward dollars method, you’ll save at least four steps. Paypal, while the easiest method for me because I don’t have to dig for my credit card, adds about four steps. The credit card payment option is less than that.
- BooksOnBoard site
- Choose book.
- Book page. Click Buy link.
- Add to cart (I wish that this step didn’t exist. By choosing the "Buy" link, I am already committing to buying the book.
- Login screen
- Shopping cart. Click the Secure Checkout button (which is very small and hard to see)
- Payment page. I choose the rewards, entered the amount and was taken straight to the download page.
- Click on download link and Stanza will open.
Interestingly enough, after I purchased the book and hit the BooksOnBoard logo to back to the front page, it went to http://booksonboard.com/index.html instead of the iPhone designated page. I had to delete the index.html and reload in order to get the iPhone-designated site again.
Site not optimized for iPhone viewing
The site is not optimized for iPhone viewing and if you are browsing, instead of planning on purchasing a specific book, you’ll have better results in landscape mode than portrait. In fact, in portrait some of the buttons during the purchasing process were very difficult to see. Amazon, despite having the Kindle for e-book sales, has an iPhone optimized Web site for ordering print books.
When purchasing via a mobile device, a consumer needs to be able to type as little as possible and go through as few hoops as possible. The beauty of the Kindle isn’t just it’s cellular connection to a big e-book repository. The beauty of the Kindle lies in its ease of use. Same as the iPhone. The existing BooksOnBoard site loads slowly via Edge. The process of purchase is too time consuming. The text is quite small and the design is still geared toward full sized computer browsing and not iPhone browsing. I believe the more impediments to purchase, the more opportunity the reader has to rethink that impulse purchase.
Rooting for BOB and others to come up with solutions
As I said in the prefatory paragraph, I am excited that companies are working toward making content easy to purchase and downloadable to the iPhone. I hope that companies like BooksOnBoard can improve the iPhone platform so that browsing and purchasing is as easy as pressing a Buy Button.